Anthony Recker hugged several of Reno Aces teammates after his special game on Sunday. The catcher had three hits, two of them doubles, to lead the team to a victory in its 71st game, guaranteeing a winning season.
The 35-year-old Recker did not play in Monday’s final game of the season, possibly the last time Recker was in a uniform as an active player. He’s played in 1,157 professional games, 206 in the major leagues.
“I love the game and I love playing the game,” Recker said before the Aces’ contest with the Albuquerque Isotopes. “I don’t know what it’s like on the other side.”
In 74 games this season, the right-hand batter hit 15 home runs, had 50 RBIs and a .276 average.
“He’s had a solid season here and he put up some decent numbers in a part-time role, Aces Manager Greg Gross said. “I wouldn’t think he would want to retire. Most guys want to play as long as they possibly can.”
Recker was signed by the Aces’ parent club, the Arizona Diamondbacks, late in spring training. A 2005 draft pick by the Oakland A’s, Recker spent time with the A’s, Cubs, Mets and Braves. Despite going on a midseason slugging tear, he was never called back up to the big leagues.
“I came into the season wanting to prove that I can still play and I accomplished that,” Recker said. “There were a lot more ups than downs. I did what I could to put us in a situation to help the team win.”
With two young children about to start school, Recker said he will contemplate retirement during the offseason from his home in Scottsdale, Arizona.
In the dugout, Recker has a constant dialogue with his teammates, usually pitchers. When he stops playing, he seems an obvious candidate to become a manager.
He had sage advice for fellow Aces catcher Michael Perez when he was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays.
“I told him not to be overwhelmed,” Recker said. “There is a lot of information thrown your way. I told him to just play his game. It’s the same game, it just moves a little faster.”
Gross said he would not be surprised to see Recker as a manager.
“It seems like a lot of catchers fall into that,” Gross said. “The game is in front of them all the time and they are always dealing with pitchers. Managing pitchers is probably the hardest thing to do.”
Recker is open to the idea.
“There is a good chance,” he said about remaining in baseball after he retires. “It will depend on the opportunities.”
Recker has a good role model in Gross.
“Gross is extremely laid back, which is good for a team, ” Recker said.” If you lose a couple of games nobody’s flustered and when we win a couple we don’t get too high. If you start riding the waves, it can be an emotional and tiring season. When you are on an even keel, it’s easier to make it through the year.”
— Tim Parsons